Why Influencer Marketing Will Make Your Company Lots of New Friends

Whether you realize it or not, you’re a walking billboard for the brands you love. As soon as you step out the door or tweet that perfectly composed tweet @ them, you’re an unpaid promoter. Hundreds of thousands of people take on Twitter every day to compliment or complain. When we shop at our favorite stores and voluntarily wear their logo, we’re paying to become their promoters.

Savvy marketers understand that tapping into select vocal brand promoters is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness, impact exposure and maximize efforts with a minimal number of customers. It’s the 80/20 principle, in that 20% of people will accomplish 80% of the work. It’s taking the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and flipping it on its head to pertain to marketing. If the squeaky customer gets heard, you better make sure that that customer is happy and influencing positively. This article will help you understand why influencer marketing is more than just a buzzword.

Why you need influencer marketing

If every brand is shouting and clawing for consumers’ attention, it may seem like the only logical tactic for a brand that’s trying to be heard is to scream louder. However, consumers are smarter than that, and today, that’s a surefire way to get your brand turned off and tuned out. Seth Godin calls this Interruption Marketing and in an interview with Fast Company, he says:

“Interruption marketing is giving way to a new model that I call permission marketing. The challenge for companies is to persuade consumers to raise their hands — to volunteer their attention… Permission marketing is marketing without interruptions.
You still have to get people’s attention in the first place, of course, and that still costs lots of money. But that’s the beginning of the story, not the end. You have to turn attention into permission, permission into learning, and learning into trust. Then you can get consumers to change their behavior.”

In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives say that word of mouth marketing is the most valuable and effective marketing method. It’s a simple concept. We’re more likely to buy something if someone we know and trust personally recommend it to us, opposed to being forced to watch a commercial during a gripping episode of New Girl. In fact, 92% of consumers say that they trust the opinion of their friends and family over all forms of advertising. With millions of brands and variations of products, establishing trust with consumers and gaining permission is key. There are numerous reasons why marketers should focus on influential marketing. Among them are affordability, power, and endurance.

Bang for your buck

Influencer marketing is extremely cost effective, yet delivers a big punch. Tools like Little Bird, Hootsuite, Klout, ClearVoice, and Buzzsumo are pennies when compared to the hefty price tags associated with conglomerate advertising agencies. These tools are used to discover, monitor, and analyze influencers in broad or niche industries. After identifying key influencers, marketers can monitor their social media posts / published content to help establish relationships and bring about awareness with certain promoters.

Powerful

Think influencer marketing isn’t as effective as multimillion dollar ad campaigns? Think again. Check out what a bunch of influencers did for Lilly Pulitzer when it hit Target’s shelves (spoiler: shelves completely cleared out in hours). According to Jay Baer, “true influence drives action, not just awareness.” Yes, you want to appeal to influencers with thousands of followers, but unless that person has a strong connection with your brand’s target persona, that influencer is merely creating noise and exposure, not action. What exactly is an “influencer”? Is it a niche brand promoter? Is it someone who yells loudly on social media? Defining who influencers are for your brand is key to figuring out how to best reach them and turn them into strong promoters of your brand.

Brand influencers hold the power to impact sales, marketing, and a brand’s identity without even realizing it. Brands that work with influencers see incredible results from the genuine messaging their loyal followers promote to their circles. According to a McKinsey Study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate. Furthermore, clever bloggers and social media queens and kings conjure up slogans and ideas that big brands could have never dreamed of. Unlike traditional marketing, influencer marketing is a bit grey when it comes to measuring ROI, as there is no definitive budget associated with it. Measurement or not, these 8 compelling campaigns clearly show the power of influencer marketing to make a huge splash.

If you want to increase exposure of your brand and impact awareness, getting highly influential and vocal people to buy-in is one of the best ways to do this.

Long-lasting relationships

Influencer marketing campaigns can be a quick sprint or a long-lasting marathon that continues to build long-term relationships. It all depends on your strategy. Campaigns that identify influencers for the purpose of one specific campaign then move on, are missing out on creating powerful, enduring relationships. Influencers are influential because they create compelling content that resonates well with their followers. We pay attention to people who matter most to us.

For a brand to be successful with influencer marketing, they should find influencers that are a perfect match for their brand and preferably someone that is a loyal customer. Brands should view influencers as someone that they are dating and strive for a longer term commitment. A positive company-influencer relationship is one that is nurturing, communicative and genuine. To learn more about fostering a positive influencer relationship, check out this article from Cision.

Savvy brands that value their consumers are moving further and further away from interruption marketing and instead running open-armed to influencer marketing. Without spending millions of dollars on advertising campaigns and disrupting the lives of consumers, companies using influencer marketing tactics are establishing solid relationships with their consumers and catapulting their brand’s exposure. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, says it best, “There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” Perhaps the “right package” is actually the right person.


Originally published at www.waterfall.com on May 1, 2015.